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For the Big Cheese

Make him a special treat for Father’s Day.

By Adam Ried
June 20, 2010

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As toast or bagel spreads go, plain cream cheese is fine for an ordinary day, but it needs sprucing up to become a treat worthy of Dad on Father’s Day morning. With a bit of creativity and a few common ingredients, you can tailor that plain white bar (or tub of whipped cream cheese, if you prefer a lighter texture) to suit your father’s fancy, or go with one of the combinations here, tested and approved by several of the dads in my circle. Adding some fresh, homemade beer bread makes breakfast even more special, and no one has to tell Dad that it’s the easiest thing you’ll ever bake!

Beer Bread

Makes 1 9-inch loaf

I use IPA to make this bread, but darker beers provide a richer flavor, along with a bit of bitterness. When I tried it with Bud, I could barely taste the beer.

Cooking spray, for the pan

3 cups all-purpose flour

1½ tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

1 bottle (12 ounces) beer

3 tablespoons butter, melted

Set the oven rack in the middle position and heat to 375 degrees. Spray a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray, and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and pepper to combine. Add the beer and, using a flexible spatula, mix to form a lumpy batter (do not overmix).

Pour into the pan, pour all but about 1 tablespoon of the melted butter over it, and bake until deep golden brown and a skewer inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean, about 55 minutes, rotating the pan and brushing the top of the loaf with the remaining melted butter halfway through the baking time.

Transfer the pan to a wire rack and cool for 10 minutes. Remove the loaf from the pan, cool at least 20 minutes longer, and serve.

Blue Cheese, Onion, and Walnut Cream Cheese

Makes about 1½ cups

1 bar (8 ounces) cream cheese, at room temperature

1 cup crumbled blue cheese (about 4 ounces), at room temperature

1 medium onion, finely chopped (about 1½ cups), browned in butter, and cooled

½ cup walnuts, toasted, cooled, and finely chopped

Salt and pepper

In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese, blue cheese, onion, walnuts, ¼ teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste until smooth and uniform. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 1 hour for flavors to develop. Before serving, return the mixture to room temperature.

Bacon, Tomato, and Horseradish Cream Cheese

Makes about 1½ cups

1 bar (8 ounces) cream cheese, at room temperature

6 slices bacon (about 6 ounces), fried and crumbled

½ cup chopped seeded tomato

3 tablespoons horseradish, or to taste, squeezed dry

3 scallions, finely chopped (about ¼ cup)

Salt and pepper

In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese, bacon, tomato, horseradish, scallions, ¼ teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste until smooth and uniform. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 1 hour for flavors to develop. Before serving, return the mixture to room temperature.

Gazpacho Cream Cheese

Makes 1¼ cups

1 bar (8 ounces) cream cheese, at room temperature

1½ tablespoons tomato paste

2 teaspoons sherry vinegar

2 tablespoons minced red onion

¼ cup finely chopped red bell pepper

¼ cup finely chopped radish

3 or 4 drops hot pepper sauce

¼ cup finely chopped parsley

Salt and black pepper

In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese, tomato paste, vinegar, onion, bell pepper, radish, hot pepper sauce, parsley, ¼ teaspoon salt, and black pepper to taste until smooth and uniform. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 1 hour for flavors to develop. Before serving, return the mixture to room temperature.

Spicy Cheddar Cream Cheese with Cherry Peppers

Makes about 1½ cups

1 bar (8 ounces) cream cheese, at room temperature

1¼ cups finely grated extra-sharp cheddar (about 2½ ounces)

3 tablespoons chopped seeded hot cherry peppers, plus 1 tablespoon of brine

3 or 4 drops hot pepper sauce

Salt and black pepper

In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese, cheddar, cherry peppers and brine, hot pepper sauce, ¼ teaspoon salt, and black pepper to taste until smooth and uniform. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 1 hour for flavors to develop. Before serving, return the mixture to room temperature.

Liptauer Cream Cheese

Makes about 1 cup

Here, we’re trying to replicate Hungarian Liptauer, a fresh sheep’s milk cheese often seasoned with onions, garlic, paprika, caraway, capers, anchovies, and other ingredients.

1 bar (8 ounces) cream cheese, at room temperature

2 tablespoons minced shallot

1 tablespoon capers, drained and finely chopped

3 anchovy fillets, minced (about 1 tablespoon)

1½ teaspoons sweet paprika

1 teaspoon caraway seeds

1 teaspoon spicy mustard

Salt and pepper

In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese, shallot, capers, anchovies, paprika, caraway seeds, mustard, ¼ teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste until smooth and uniform. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 1 hour for flavors to develop. Before serving, return the mixture to room temperature.

Send comments or suggestions to Adam Ried at cooking@globe.com.

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KITCHEN AIDE
Cream Cheese and Company

Classified as a fresh (that is, soft, uncured) cheese, cream cheese is made of pasteurized whole milk with added cream (and usually stabilizers, too). By law, it must have a minimum fat content of 33 percent. Whipped cream cheese has air whipped into it for a lighter texture (and somewhat fewer calories per serving). Reduced-fat cream cheese, often marketed in the United States as Neufchatel (and quite unlike real Neufchatel from Normandy in France) has between 20 and 33 percent fat. In the recipes here, tasters were unable to detect any difference between full- and reduced-fat cream cheese.